Pimonenko Nikolay Kornilovich (1862-1912) – one of the most famous and gifted masters of the domestic genre in Ukrainian painting. A landscape painter, a master of psychological portraiture and a strong, confidently accurate drawing, was entirely devoted to the peasant theme, Ukrainian folk rites and customs, the nature of national life, which he displayed with a deep poetic feeling.
N. Pimonsnko was born on the outskirts of Kiev in a poor petty bourgeois family. Pup, the future artist in art, was predetermined from childhood, when he went with his father, an icon painter, to villages in the Kiev region, helping to fulfill orders for small churches. Maybe he was destined to continue his father’s business if it weren’t for a meeting with N. Murashko, founder of the Kiev drawing school. N. Pimonenko studied in it from 1876 to 1882 and was one of the most talented students, and three years later he became a repertoire and assistant manager. Within the walls of the school, the young artist became acquainted with I. Repin, who would later call him “the living portrayal of Ukraine.”
From 1882 to 1884 N. Pimonenko studied at the Pedagogical Courses of the Academy of Arts as a volunteer in the workshop of V. D. Orlovsky, his future father-in-law. Unfortunately, the health of the young artist did not allow him to fully fulfill his program of stay in St. Petersburg. Having received small and large incentive medals, a certificate for the title of teacher of drawing, N. Pimonenko is leaving for his native Kiev, where he teaches at the Kiev drawing school N.I. Murashko, the Kiev art school, as well as at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. Among his students are G. K. Dyadchenko, S. P. Kostenko, F. S. Krasitsky, A. A. Murashko and others.
In 1885 – 1887, in the work of N. Pimonenko, a search for his theme took place. At this time, his works “After the auction”, “On vacation” appear at the exhibitions, but already in the late 1880s, the main theme of the artist’s work was the image of the Ukrainian village. Great success was his painting “Holy Fortune-telling” (State Russian Museum), which was exhibited at the 1888 academic exhibition and was acquired for the Museum of the Imperial Academy of Arts.
In 1891, N. Pimonenko received the title of Honorary Free Community of the Academy of Arts for his paintings “Wedding in the Kiev Province” and “Morning of the Resurrection of Christ”. In 1904, he was awarded the title of academician of the Imperial Academy of Arts. Since 1891, N. Pimonenko was a member of the Association of South Russian Artists, and since 1899, the Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the master actively participated in international exhibitions in Paris, Berlin, Munich and London, his works were readily acquired by collectors. The painting “Hopak”, with the image of a dancing girl, was successfully exhibited at the Paris Salon (1909) and was acquired by the Louvre Museum.
Nikolay Pimonenko passed away in the prime of his life. In a letter to the writer I. Yasinsky, Ilya Repin wrote: “What a loss for the Peredvizhniki! He was a true Ukrainian, and will not be forgotten by his homeland for his true and sweet pictures like Ukraine.”
Having struck N. Pimonenko in childhood as a child of peace and picturesqueness, the Ukrainian village forever became the leitmotif of his art. Country life, folk rites, lovely landscapes – that’s what the artist wrote all his life. In the painting “At the Well” by Nikolai Pimonenko, which is presented in the collection, the artist turns to a topic that occupies a prominent place in his work – the theme of peasant children. The work is distinguished by subtle artistic realism, expressiveness in the transmission of sunlight. A pensive fair-haired peasant girl appears before us as a symbol of cleanliness and hard work. In the face of the heroine, meditation and curiosity are read. Of all the seasons, the artist preferred the summer. With particular skill, he reflected the beauty and juiciness of summer nature, which determines the figurative and emotional structure of the picture. This canvas is one of the most successful works of the master, in which he depicted with love and tenderness his favorite theme of Ukrainian life, revealing the images of peasants he knew in their daily lives.
The works of N. Pimonenko are stored in the National Art Museum of Ukraine, the State Russian Museum, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Louvre and others. In 1959, a street in Kiev was named after Nikolai Pimonenko.